Chris Gilchrist has recruiters drooling over his size.
Note: Obviously, a lot more will be learned over the summer about the guys on this list and how their teams will use them. And I will do another list after that. But for now, this is a pretty guideline as to who the top receivers in the “area” are. As always, let me know where I’ve screwed up, if I’ve screwed up, point out some nuggets I may not have heard of, and I will pay extra-close attention to them this summer.
1. Brett Bartolone, Sr., La Habra — Bartolone has absolutely the most polished game around. He runs great routes, has speed and reliable hands. Hey, if Air Force wants him, then you know he must doing something right and that says what kind of kid he is both on and off the field. Will Bartolone’s numbers suffer with QB Cody Clements gone? That remains to be seen, but as of now, nobody is the total package that Bartolone is.
2. Taylor Lagace,Sr., Arcadia — Lagace already has an offer from Boise St., and like Bartolone, he brings exceptional polish to his position. Lagace caught 42 balls for 650 yards and 10 TDs last year and I expect those numbers to get even better with QB Miles Carr back. He also had 1,045 return yards. There’s not too many total packages like him around and that 4.5 40 time has recruiters very excited. Lagace will probably be a safety in college, but pity the DB who has to line up opposite him this season.
3. Travis Talianko, Sr., St. Francis — At 6-1 and a legit 200 pounds, it’s easy to see why Talianko is catching the eyes of recruiters. He had high expectations put on him heading into last year and didn’t disappoint, catching 59 balls for 946 yards and a whopping 17 TDs! With another good-looking quarterback under center at SF and Jim Bonds calling the offensive shots, Talianko is poised for another huge year.
4. Chris Gilchrist, Sr., Charter Oak — Gilchrist has recruiters from all over drooling due to his 6-foot-4 frame and good speed. With QB Travis Santiago back, expect Gilchrist’s numbers to possibly double from last year’s 704 yards and five TDs. With Dennis Rufus now playing on Saturdays, Gilchrist becomes unquestioned No. 1 target. He’s been working with former CO star Jason David and I expect more overall polish out of his game this season because of it.
5. Vinny Venegas, Sr., Covina — Venegas was an All-SGV selection last year after hauling 60 receptions for 1,064 yards and 12 touchdowns. His numbers may get even better this season with QB Billy Livingston and RB Gevontray Ainsworth back. As fans saw last year against Baldwin Park, Venegas is capable of taking games over at any moments. He remains one of the most electric players in the area.
6. Adam Aguirre, Sr., Cantwell — Aguirre was a force last year on a team that put most of its emphasis on the run. That didn’t stop the 6-foot-3 Aguirre from catching 50 balls for 981 yards and 11 touchdowns. His average yards-per-catch were a very nice 19.6! Cantwell has some returning experience in QB Jacob Alaniz, Aguirre’s numbers shouldn’t suffer.
7. George Katrib, Sr., Diamond Bar — Katrib is a nice package of speed and sure hands, and despite not having great size, he’s willing to go over the middle and make catches in traffic. Katrib was the Southeast Division’s No. 2 receiver behind Walnut’s Aubrey Coleman last season. He caught 63 balls for 984 yards and 11 TDs. No reason those numbers don’t get even better with QB Henry Omana back as well.
8. Alex Villalobos, Sr., San Gabriel — Being the No.1 receiver at San Gabriel usually leads to huge numbers. And while Villalobos’ 41 catches for 801 yards and 8 TDs were solid, seeing improve all those numbers by about 50 percent this season with more stability at QB is not out of the question. Villalobos projects as one of my top breakout players this year and the numbers should show that.
9. Jamie Canada, Sr., South Hills — I’ve been doing my research here since The Guru’s bold call of Canada being the top recruit in the area. Canada has been cleared to play and Huskies coach Steve Bogan assures me he’s going to be special. With a veteran QB back in Vince Hernandez and a RB like Jamel Hart to take the pressure off, Canada looks poised to deliver on all the promise we’ve been hearing about.
10. Garrett Horine, Sr. Bonita — Horine has the speed and hands to really move up this list. But what he doesn’t have is a veteran signal caller to throw to him. If Bonita can groom a QB, and we all know Coach Podley’s track record of doing this, Horine could be set for a smashing senior season. He tipped his hand last year by averaging over 17 yards per catch and hauling in 7 TD passes.
THOUGHTS AND SLEEPERS: This is perhaps the most important section of this entire write up. At no other position can you hear about more sleeper than receivers … and a lot of times these sleepers hit at a much higher rate than other positions. Anyway, they’re raving at Damien about Josh Savage, who is 6-1 and can really run. He has no experience, so I had a hard time putting him in the top 10. Watch out for him, though. Whittier Christian’s Cody Bronkar is getting big ups from Daily News preps stalwart Andrew Campa. I personally saw Monrovia’s Luke Williams and immediately pictured him as M-Town’s top outside threat. No disrespect to Anthony Craft, who had a decent year last year and should be even better. And what about D-Ranch’s Andrew Fischer? He’s going to be Roddy’s top target and maybe his top offensive weapon. Amat’s Adam Sanchez finished 19th in the PAC-5 last year and that was with an ankle injury that might be lingering. If healthy, he’s a good one. And if Zach Shay catches as many balls as I’m hearing, he’s another stud to watch. Lastly, Charter Oak coaches think they have something very special in Bryce Bobo. And finally, there’s buzz out of Arroyo about an underclassmen named Brandon Jauregui. I will follow him this summer and see if I agree. As always, feel free to tell me WHERE I WENT WRONG!